This trimester you will write two essays. The first is due at the end of the fifth week. You should have at least five pages of TEXT, excluding the works cited page. In these essays, you will make a specific, interpretive argument about one or two works of literature, and to offer textual evidence in support of your interpretation in the context of current, relevant research (five secondary sources). I have placed sample papers and guidelines on Canvas and encourage you to consult them sooner rather than later. I also encourage you to speak to me about your papers at any stage in the composing process. Use MLA format, and Times New Roman or Arial 12 pt. font.
Below are questions you might consider developing into essay topics. You don’t HAVE to use these questions, but you may. You can also develop one of your weekly reading responses into this first paper if you wish. You must write about at least one work that we’ve read during the first part of the trimester, but you may bring in other works as well.
• Discuss similarities and differences between Christian beliefs and the various Native American creation myths we read.
Harriot and Smith
• Discuss Harriot and/or Smith’s portrayals of Native American religion in light of Native American creation myths and writings in the text.
• Choose one of Bradstreet’s poems and discuss the “split” narrative voice of Anne / Mrs. Bradstreet). Which lines do you attribute to each voice? Why? What is the resultant effect?
• Discuss the complexities of Rowlandson’s portrait of Native Americans in her narrative.
• What do the poems of Bradstreet and Rowlandson’s narrative say about the fears and anxieties of the average Puritan woman?
Native American Cluster
• In the section of works we read from the text’s Native American Cluster, only Samson Occom’s text is recorded in his own words. Choose two of the other texts and identify questions raised by the secondhand recording of it.
• How does Cervecour define what it means to be an American in letter #3? How does he implicitly revise that definition in letter # 9?
• Discuss the role of the individual as Emerson outlines it in “The American Scholar” and “Self-Reliance.”
• Discuss Emerson’s division between “Man Thinking” and “mere thinker”
• Discuss Rip Van Winkle’s experience as a metaphor for American experience during the Revolutionary period.
• What does Rip’s portrayal of women, especially his wife, reveal about his own character?
• Discuss several ways in which “Rip Van Winkle” addresses versions of the American Dream.
• Compare and/or contrast Hawthorne’s depiction of Puritan society with respect to the definition of it Winthrop articulates in “Model of Christian Charity.”
• Discuss Hawthorne’s use of “open-ended” endings.
• Think about self-knowledge in Hawthorne’s stories. Which of these characters truly come to know something about human nature and their own existence in the process? Which of them only think that they acquire such knowledge?
• What aspects of Puritan society do Hawthorne’s works most critique? Which aspects do those same works replicate or embody?